Eat cassava instead of rice: M'sian speaker urges public to consider alternatives amidst shortage

Is rice really life?

Ruth Chai | April 07, 2024, 09:01 PM



Dewan Rakyat speaker (equivalent to Singapore's Speaker of Parliament) Johari Abdul urged Malaysian citizens to consider eating alternative carbohydrates such as cassava amidst a local shortage of white rice.

The New Straits Times reported that he asked the public to reconsider their reliance on rice as a staple food at the Jualan Termurah Madani programme in Bandar Perdana on Apr. 6

"What is the purpose of eating rice? To get carbohydrates," he said.

He appealed to the public to consume other types of carbohydrates to ease the shortage of white rice in the country.

"People in Sarawak eat tapioca... If we can introduce it as an additional food to replace rice, we should definitely do it... I understand that it is a big success in Sarawak," he added.

Cassava has less sugar than rice

He added that local governments should facilitate the use of idle land for cultivating food products to decrease their reliance on imported foods.

"For example, I have discussed with a few Sarawak members of parliament about cultivating cassava as a supplementary food due to its nutritional value and lower sugar level when compared to sugar contained in rice," he said.

"I believe that it is timely for the state government and local authorities to open the doors and allow the people to cultivate abandoned land and plant various food sources such as vegetables," he added.

Previously, Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that government intervention was needed to restore the supply of white rice, after export bans from some rice-producing countries.

Anwar directed the government to process and distribute the available stocks of padi and rice, totalling 140,000 metric tonnes, for the local market.

However, opposition MP Syed Abu Hussin said on March 31 that 13 days after Anwar's directive, he checked with 105 hypermarkets nationwide but only five were selling local white rice.

In February 2024, agriculture and food security minister Mohamad Sabu said Malaysia’s total agricultural food imports from January to November last year amounted to RM71.6 billion, reported Malaysian media Free Malaysia Today.

He also said that grains and grain products had the highest import value, totalling RM10.84 billion.

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Top photo via johariabdul_/Instagram